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On February 2, Dr Mark Greenberg joined the Dalai Lama Center for a special Speakers Series event, "Developing Mindfulness in Families, Schools and Youth". The evening brought Mark together with his wife Christa Turksma and local educator Dr Kimberly Schonert-Reichl to talk about how mindful training can play an important role in youth development.
Christa started off the evening with some mindful practices with the audience, asking them to focus on what they hoped to get out of the event. She would lead similar exercises throughout the night, including breathing and awareness exercises.
Mindfulness and mindful practices are two different things, according to Mark. He listed such practices as yoga, meditation and martial arts as various ways that one can work toward mindfulness.
Mindfulness plays a role in youth development not just in the way that children can take part in mindful practices. Mark says mindfulness is also important for educators as a way of coping with burnout. He stated that a school district in Chicago faces a turnover of 45% in a five-year period.
Mark also shared some of his work with a school in inner-city Baltimore, where a group of at-risk children engaged in yogic practices. He said that many of them showed reduction in rumination, or the tendency to dwell on negative thoughts, which can be a predictor of anxiety disorders and depression.
Even though Mark and his colleagues are doing extensive work on mindfulness in youth development, he says that research in this field is in its infancy. He predicts, however, that mindfulness will be one of the core focuses of scientific research over the next two decades.
Dr Greenberg finished the evening by joining Kimberley and Christa on a panel to answers some questions from moderator Maria LeRose and from the audience. In response to an audience question, Mark says he is cautious about drawing parallels from his work in Baltimore to other cities, because what leads to anxiety and stress will vary from place to place, based on cultural differences.
Check out the audio podcast below in "The Event" section and stay tuned for the complete video podcast to come.